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SELEDA Salutes

SELEDA SALUTES: Celebrating Ethiopian Excellence

Places, People and Tingatingoch We Like



The best thing that has ever happened to Winnipeg, in our distinctly irgo zinbish opinion, is that no SELEDA Staffer has ever set foot there. Good thing too, since the number of cities we have been told not to d’rish mallet is starting to give us a complex. (Besides, we never could find Winnipeg on our trusty "Map of the World" ... that map which stretches all the way up north to BolE, and then allllll the way south to SoderE. Winnipeg taddiya yet ale?)

All the dengara speculation ended, however, when we came across the web page for the Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg. We were struck by the genuine sense of community them people have over there yonder, but were particularly struck by what they humbly call their "Little Project"… The first one was building houses for the homeless in Ethiopia, and their current august one is collecting books to be sent home. Ahhh, the sweet sounds of the veins reconnecting to the Motherland. Besides hosting the usual festivities such as parties celebrating the Addis Amet, Fasika etc in grand style (we love the dress codes for these soirees… "No runners, No sweat pant, No Kesha Kofia …anything that makes you look like Duryea"), the Winnipeg ETs organize events with more ummph!… On April 7, for example, there is going to be a Crime Prevention and Awareness Workshop, covering domestic violence, alcohol/drug abuse etc, which made us wonder if any of their workshops are as informative as SELEDA’s last workshop, "How to make white collar crime work for you, Part 9."


SELEDA Salutes our neighbors up north, and we’ve put Winnipeg on our "Map Of the World" … right there by BolE Mini.. a spot coveted by many, we might add. Bertu teberatu.

To get that warm fuzzy feeling about community, visit the ETHIOPIAN SOCIETY of WINNIPEG home page.


Oh, the age old question… how to tackle Ethiocentric home décor other than the tried and true "nailing of crosses glued to velvet covered cardboards" to our walls? It’s been a dilemma that has caused more anguish than the perfectly spaced square mesqel Tlf napkins that we’ve been placing on the headrest of our sofas ever since the exodus of ‘74.

But just when we are about to re-think the ferenjinet that made us remove the plastic seat cover from our recliners, and feeling shame for the "Tgab" that made us remove the Tsehai Gbat danteel from the gargantuan mesob EtiyE Amakelech ishurrurru-ed all the way from Dessie to Addis to London to Dallas as a housewarming gift, here (thankfully) comes Meddab to the rescue!

To wit: "At Meddab, we pride ourselves in offering you cultural and functional modern home accessories, office products, and school supplies."

…..Effoyyee. BejjjjEEEE.

Their 2002 catalogue include "placemats, clocks, journals, coasters, letter boxes, mousepads, lunch boxes, kente collection and feedel Ethiopic collection." (Whhattt? No "Story of Sheba" terry robes…"?? Belu tolo.)


Of course it’s nice that Meddab’s business tenet is to "promote understanding and compassion" through their fabulous, absolutely classy designs; and yes, yes, we think it’s estimable that they "firmly believe in a contribution to what is of the highest importance in this season of humanity’s development; CONNECTION", BUT, if just one Ethiopian household is saved from taping one more NTO poster above a fireplace… if just one more branna painting of two figures eating with an astonishingly illuminating title "Sibelu" is yanked from a countertop, then, sniff, they would have made a great contribution to life in exile.

We hope this is just a beginning and that Meddab will add to its repertoire. The possibilities are endless.

Check out Meddab’s very reasonably priced collection here by going to www.meddab.com.


We wanted it to be noted that we were the first ones to have made the claim that that purple dinosaur with that sickly nasally voice was the anti-Christ. As Teacher Tewelde used to say, "Didn’t I tolded you?" So, y’mezgebiln.

What was our point?

Ah. The EBCEF. Here’s the phrase that sold us on the EBCEF… Founder Yohannes Gebregerogis: "Literature has the capacity to change lives, to change attitudes, to change beliefs. In fact, literature can heal people." Er.. ya, we said that too. (No we did not.)

EBCEF’s goal is to "produce books for Ethiopian children in Ethiopia and in the Ethiopian languages." While oral storytelling has its charm (who can forget the enrapturing stories of your grand uncle who would sit you by the mdija and regale you with scientifically dubious tales until your mother comes breaking up the ambiance… "Ante lb adirq! Libih’n yadirqew geta IgzihabEr!"), the power of opening a book and letting the words wash over your soul is… celestial. Especially when the book in question will "encourage children to be strong, to be brave, to be honest, to be proud of their culture and history." And if you can "produce kids who will be responsible for building their country and who will become citizens with compassion for others" without, we assume, a heavy dose of Ridlin, then heck sign us up.

The EBCEF has published its first book… Mamo Qilo, and encourages young writers through its creative writing contests, as well as encourage children’s book publishing, literacy, and ultimately hopes to establish an Ethiopian Children's Book Center in Ethiopia.

We are humbled.

Click here to find out more about the EBCEF and ways to support its effort.



Who knew that "foot disease" was not just another term for a really, really wretched pedicure? Good thing Professor Tilahun Yilma and not we are in charge of finding vaccines for the affliction known as Foot and Mouth Disease, a deadly cattle disease that has been causing havoc with livestock especially in Africa.

The Professor’s achievement is daunting, especially in light of the fact that

Rinderpest has, since 1980, reportedly "killed an estimated $400 million worth of cattle and sapped more than $2 billion in related losses out of Africa's already weak economy," according to people who know these things.

Hello! Slap us silly and call us "ShnqT shemonmuwanna", but that kinda seems like a lot of lost revenue. But, what do we know?

As one of the top veterinary virologists in the country, Professor Tilahun genetically engineered this vaccine at UC Davis, where he was named the 2002 Faculty Lecturer by his colleagues, or, as we affectionately call scientists, "people who know many words that end with the suffix —ities."

Says one of them, "His research efforts have advanced our knowledge of vaccine biology, created new vaccines, and saved and empowered lives in developing regions of the world, particularly in Africa."

If it were us, we would have rested after such a prodigious achievement, relentlessly taunt others with our superiority, and then take a cushy job at a multinational pharmaceutical company and become fanatical golfers… which is why God made us the way he made us. Not the good Professor. His next project is to duplicate his success with the AIDS virus. And, no doubt, pretty soon you will be reading the headline, "AIDS Vaccine Found by Ethiopian Scientist." Maybe then Professor Tilahun will take up croquet and cigar smoking.

We are awed.

To read the UC Davis news story about Professor Tilahun, click here.


We are sure it is no longer such an adebabi misTr that we are known leflafiwech, of the quniTnT variety, no less. We are rarely at loss for words, yet words fail us miserably when we try to describe the indescribable beauty of Ato Melaku Gelaw’s self-titled album. At a time in Ethiopian music where the tired and true has become simply… comfortable, Ato Melaku delivers a much-needed injection of a raw, graceful yet potent musical genius in our otherwise complacent psyche.

This album is devoid of synthesizers, drum machines, computer generated falsettos and saccharine lyrics the Amharic equivalent of "Boom, Boom, Boom/Let’s go back to my room." Instead, Ato Melaku’s masterpiece harps back to the times when music was the musician, his krar, his washint, and his devastatingly organic voice.

Ato Melaku’s musical journey starts with that washint harmony of "Ye IreNa CHewata", that singularly most powerful melody in Ethiopian music that scales the mountains of Dashen, walks on the waters of Wabi Shebelle, tames the ferocious T’iss Esat, and seduces the angry skies over Dembi Dollo. His bouts of inhaled and exhaled air into his washint reconstruct the great Aksum Empire, fertilize the soil of Yrga Alem and rally the Gembi trees to sway to a lonely shepherd’s harmonizing while his friends, the birds, accompany him in the background. This, our friends, is not just music… it is Art at its most cathartic.

Ato Melaku takes the listener on a journey that is sometimes joyous, sometimes painful but always curative. By the time he croons Bati and Ambasel, and then crescendos with "Ebakish" he has managed to stop time.

Especially for those of us who were not lucky enough to ever witness Ato Kassa Tessema’s brilliance, here is our salvage. Who knows how many countless Ethiopians from generations back have listened to these same tunes, sung them, loved them…

We also salute C-Side Entertainment for their insight into the importance of artists like Ato Melaku, and for preserving their work so that our children will some day feel the same euphoria. We are grateful. Now, if he will only start touring! Someone… please?

Here is a short biography of Ato Melaku.

To purchase his CD on line, go to http://www.soukk.com/melaku/index.html

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